I was intrigued to find out this week that the word desire may well derive from a sense of being cut off from the stars (sidus – star in Latin), from remote things that are simply not attainable. In my own experience, my deepest desires have certainly seemed remote at times and I have plunged into despair. Now, by looking at my concrete realities, I’m realising that what I really want is actually within my reach. I am learning that I need to place my feet firmly on the ground in order to wish, long, and yearn.
What the heart wants
Blogger Michele Campbell reminded me that my deepest desires were put deep within my heart so I wouldn’t lose them. What a wonderful thought and how grateful I feel when pondering it. Beautiful desires are actually accessible and ready to be found if I only look to my heart. Once again, I stop gazing at the stars and instead listen to what I really want in life. I want to promote the psycho-spiritual needs of the general public through blogging, journalism, and doing a masters in applied spirituality. I want to work towards the more universal good and make a contribution.
Discerning our deepest desires takes some training, and I look to Ignatian Spirituality for inspiration. In his autobiography, St. Ignatius pays attention to “joys that endure” which he calls consolation and “joys that pass away” which he calls desolation. In the August Messenger magazine, Donal Neary SJ says: “Consolation leads us to love and serve others” whereas I presume desolation leads us to hate and lord over others. So what does this mean to me? If I am relatively free from a world of desolation, through a shift away from an addiction to something or an overattachment to someone, then I believe I can sift through desires that are useless and ones that are as precious as gold.
“The desires and longings which we have,” says Bernard Lonergan, “for what is beautiful, for what makes sense, for what is true, for what has value, and for what has ultimate value are at the heart of what it means to be human.”
In this effort to be more human, it helps me to think about a time in my life when I lacked true desire. This year, I finished up a 6 month contract in the civil service where I assisted the Irish government with disability issues. In many ways, it was a very positive experience: working a full week, attending meetings, reaching deadlines, and using my gift of writing. However, when I thought about continuing this on as a career, I felt dry, unmotivated, and a lack of joy. I asked myself: “Is there anything more I could do with my life?, What else is out there?” Now I ask: “Is there anything I couldn’t live without?” And this question brings me back to my desire to promote the psycho-spiritual needs of the general public. I couldn’t live without sharing my talents in psychology and spirituality; it has become part of who I am and it is in the fabric of my being. I rejoice in gratitude for my current career path.
The heat of desire
I don’t want the world of my deepest desires to become a place for mosquito breeding. I don’t want to get to a point of intolerable boredom and loneliness. Nor do I want it to be like a heart attack of distress, impossibly hard work, and relentless pressures and expectations. It has taken at least 5 years to get to the point where I am at right now. I have found my way here through testing out other career paths in chaplaincy, counselling psychology, and fictional writing. I have been guided by my inner compass which slowly has pointed in the right direction. I freely choose my path without any desperation. I am close to the heat of my deepest desires without exploding. And what a beautiful balanced thing that is.